About ProtoThinker

Author: John Barker

Design of the Program

ProtoThinker is an innovative computer program designed to stimulate thinking about thinking. It contains a simple model of an exceedingly complex object--the human mind. Through conversational interaction with an 'artificial' mind, the user explores the capabilities of real minds.


This program facilitates investigation of:

  • The nature of the mind
  • The mind-body problem
  • Free will and determinism
  • The nature of persons
  • Commonsense psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Logical reasoning
  • Rational agency
  • Knowledge and belief
  • The nature of language

ProtoThinker is Designed to:

Operation of the Program

The user converses with the simulated person, ProtoThinker (PT), and explores PT's abilities to think, reason, understand language, and make decisions. Experiments are conducted with modifications of PT's abilities and with simulations of free will, deception, self-awareness, psychological repression, 'irrational' values, amnesia, multiple-personality, autism, illogical reasoning, and passage of time. 'Recordings' of conversations with PT, accompanied by commentaries that discuss issues about the mind, can be created and exchanged with other users for playback. The program contains a text reader designed for perusing reading materials on disk, an easy-to-use word processor for composing reports and essays, and a pop-up Notepad. The Games of Reasoning provide an enjoyable way to learn the logical principles employed by PT.

Computer Requirements

PT runs on computers with Windows 95 and above.

Copyright: 2006